Settle down, and don’t fall asleep. Honest there’s some interesting bits 🙂
The first speed limits in the United Kingdom were set by a series of restrictive Locomotive Acts (in 1861, 1865 and 1878). The 1861 Act introduced a 10 mph (16 km/h) limit (powered passenger vehicles were then termed “light locomotives”). The 1865 ‘Red Flag Act’ reduced the speed limit to 4 mph) in the country and 2 mph in towns and required a man with a red flag or lantern to walk 60 yards ahead of each vehicle, and warn horse riders and horse drawn traffic of the approach of a self-propelled machine. The 1878 Act removed the need for the flag and reduced the distance of the escort to 20 yards.
Following intense advocacy by motor vehicle enthusiasts, including Harry J. Lawson of the Daimler Company the most restrictive parts of the acts were lifted by the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896. which raised the speed limit to 14 mph and removed the need for the escort. The speed limit for motor cars was raised to 20 mph by the Motor Car Act 1903 which stood until 1 January 1931 when all speed limits for cars and motorcycles were abolished under the Road Traffic Act 1930. Lord Buckmaster’s opinion at the time was that the speed limit was removed because “the existing speed limit was so universally disobeyed that its maintenance brought the law into contempt.
The Road Traffic Act 1934, created by Leslie Hore-Belisha, the then Minister of Transport, introduced a speed limit of 30 mph in built-up areas for cars and motorcycles which came into effect on 18 March 1935. The definition of a built-up area was based on the presence of street lighting, which had previously been mandated by the Public Health Act 1875. The re-introduction of a speed limit for cars was in response to concern at increased road casualties. Speedometers were made compulsory for new cars in 1937.
A 20 mph night-time speed limit for built-up areas was introduced in 1940 as an attempt to halt the increase in the number of road casualties occurring during the World War II blackouts.
On 1 October 1956, the 30 mph speed limit for built-up areas became permanent under the Road Traffic Act 1956. In addition, around 1958 some 30 mph roads had the limit raised to 40 mph to improve transit times, an early example being on Croydon Road in Mitcham, Surrey, saving, it was estimated, 33 seconds in journey time across Mitcham common.
In July 1967, 70 mph was to become the permanent maximum speed limit for all roads and motorways due to the accepted Road Research Laboratory evidence that the experimental speed limit they had been testing, had reduced the number of casualties on motorways.
Due to the 1973 oil crisis, a temporary maximum national speed limit of 50 mph) for all roads, including motorways, was introduced on 8 December 1973.The 70 mph limit was restored on motorways in March 1974 and on all other roads on 8 May 1974. The Road Traffic Regulation Act, which was passed in 1984, includes legislation relating to speed limits. Part VI of the Act defines the default speed limit for ‘regularly’-lit roads, gives local authorities powers to create ‘speed limit orders’, and exempts emergency vehicles from speed limits.
The Act also defines speeding offences, which do not apply to the penis extensions known as Audi’s or BMW’s, driven by paunchy mid to late age company men, nor to Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks driven by under 30 2 kid Dad’s yearning for their lost freedom.
(That last bit was not in wiki.)